Shaykh Al-Albani on The Correct Way to See the Potential Bride

Shaykh Muḥammad Nāṣir Al-Dīn Al-Albānī – Allāh have mercy on him – was asked:

How much is [the suitor] allowed to see of a young woman when he has resolved to marry her?

He replied:

There are two types of viewing:

[One] is the viewing arranged with the girl and her guardian, not the girl alone. This is a viewing arranged with the girl and her family, her guardian. In this [meeting] it is not allowed [for the suitor] to see of her except what he would normally be allowed to see of her if she were to leave her home and go out to the market, to the street, i.e. her face and hands only (i.e. she should be in full ḥijāb, and according to the opinion of the Shaykh and other scholars, the woman is not obliged to cover her face and hands when in full ḥijāb).

The second instance is seeing her without her knowing. We could call this type of viewing “the legislated (allowed) peek”, and it is when the suitor looks at [the girl] who he wants in his heart to marry, so he looks at what he is able to see while she is unaware. This is allowed without limit. This is possible in certain circumstances without prior arrangement, as it is confirmed that a Companion was seen looking at a woman who was on the roof of her house; what we call in Syria the mushraqah, the roof on which or in which the washing is hung out to dry. [In such a place] the woman might be visible, if a person looks carefully, he might see part of her arm, her neck, head or hair. If he is not related to her, the saying of Allāh tabāraka wa taʿālā applies:

Say to the believers they must lower their gaze…

Meaning of Qurʾān 24:30

If he desires to marry her, it is allowed here for him to see her for the purpose of bringing about in himself the resolve to marry her or not. It is here that the other ḥadīth of Al-Mughīrah b. Shuʿbah applies. In this ḥadīth, he mentioned to the Prophet – Allāh’s peace and blessings be upon him – that he had married a woman from the Anṣār. The Prophet said to him, Have you looked at her? For there is something in the eyes of the Anṣār. And in another version, there is some defect [in the eyes of the Anṣār]. Al-Mughīrah said, So I looked at her, and married her and found goodness and blessings in her, or words to that effect.

Therefore, seeing and looking at the woman who is considered for proposal is of two types: the viewing which is arranged with her family, and in this it is not allowed [for the suitor] to see except the face and hands. As for the other type of viewing (explained above), it has no limits.

Al-Albānī. Silsilah Al-Hudā Wal-Nūr. [Tape no. 593 @ 01:01:04]

In other recorded answers, Shaykh Al-Albānī expressly says he had stopped allowing the woman to appear without full ḥijāb in an arranged meeting with the suitor, which he used to allow based on a narration about Umm Kulthūm, the daughter of ʿAlī, having been offered in marriage to ʿUmar and him seeing her. The Shaykh had changed his position on the authenticity of the narration, and later graded it weak.